Indian acid attack victim Sonali Mukherjee becomes a millionaire
Sonali Mukherjee was left completely disfigured by the attack which happened when she was just 17-years-old and her family have since spent all their money funding her treatment.
But the 27-year-old, from New Delhi, will be able to pay for another round of plastic surgery after scooping the top prize on India’s version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
Sonali, who was attacked by a spurned suitor and his friends, won Rs 25 lakhs – the equivalent of almost £30,000 – as she appeared on show with Bollywood actress and former Miss Universe Lara Dutta.
The show’s host Amitabh Bachchan, known as Big B in India, praised Sonali’s bravery in appearing on the show.
He said: ‘Denied justice, she pleaded publicly to end her life. Denied that too because euthanasia is illegal in the country, she decided not to remain silent and suffer.
‘Her story is one of immense courage.
‘The nation salutes her as do all of us, but simultaneously hangs its head in shame for this dastardly act.’
Sonali, who has undergone surgery 22 times since the 2003 attack, said that the win was the perfect treatment for her wounds.
She was a promising student in her hometown of Dhanbad, in the eastern Indian Jharkhand region, at the time of the attack, which saw her doused in a chemical called Tezaab, normally used to clean rusted tools.
Her attackers broke into her home and poured acid on her as she slept.
She remains partially blind and deaf as a result of her injuries.
Since then she has received no state funding for her treatment and earlier this year she wrote to the Indian Government threatening to kill herself if she did not receive state aid.
Her attackers are currently out on bail after serving just four months in jail with no one ever properly convicted of the crime.
Sonali’s winnings will pay for the next round of plastic surgery but she is still appealing for donations to help fund further operations once the money has run out.
Her family have had to sell ancestral land, her mother’s jewellery and had run out of money for further treatment before her win.
The series of operations and consultations that Sonali has endured have already cost hundreds of thousands of rupees.
She says that it will cost an estimated £1.5million rupees for her to look ‘even remotely human’ and to have her eyesight restored.
Earlier this year some Rs 30 lakh was raised by Mumbai-based company Beti as part of Project Hope which aims to give Sonali a new identity.
Celebrities such as Bollywood actress Juhi Chawla and producer Ramesh Tauran also donated funds to the appeal.
The former NCC Cadet was allegedly sexually abused for years by her attackers and was studying sociology honours while juggling a job at the time of the attack.
Her family were forced to flee Dhanbad and her mother fell into a deep depression.
Her father Chandi Das Mukherjee said, ‘We appealed in the high court… Nothing happened. They were sent to jail but were released soon after… Now they are busy enjoying their lives.’
‘The law against acid attackers needs to be made tougher. Otherwise we will have many more Sonalis.’
The show, which is called Kaun Banega Crorepati and is in its sixth series, was famously featured in Oscar winning Danny Boyle film Slumdog Millionaire.
Sonali’s appearance came as part of a one off show called Doosra Mauka, or Second Chance, which featured contestants who have shown courage in the face of adversity.
SOURCE: Daily Mail
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